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Preventing The Spread Of Germs At Home and Your HVAC System

hvac technician

Reduce the Chances of an Airborne Infection Getting Transmitted via Your HVAC System

Your health and that of your family are crucial, and you need to ensure that it’s a priority at all times. Sadly, most individuals are unaware of the risks HVAC-prone germs present to their families and loved ones.

The effort to fight HVAC germs in hospitals has drawn the media’s attention as antibiotic-resistant germs appear in the hospital air. This issue is a cause of concern since hospitals are meant to house sick individuals, who are often contagious.

The risk to your HVAC system might not be as severe as the risk facing healthcare facilities and hospitals, but similar principles apply. Simply put, there is plenty to learn from healthcare facilities and hospitals on why your HVAC system needs to be sanitized.

You can take multiple measures to reduce the chances of an airborne infection getting transmitted via your HVAC system. Taking such steps is especially crucial during seasons when there is an increase in catching airborne diseases like flu.

This article contains some of the best ways to reduce home bacteria in your HVAC system.

Tip 1: When Possible Ensure Air Is Circulating

Several HVAC technology innovations have made it more energy-efficient and easier to keep our homes warmer in the months of winter and cool in the months of summer. However, this control comes at a cost.

You increasingly and unknowingly become more reliant on recycled air by relying on your HVAC system for temperature control. So, when germs get into your house, they are do not get removed. Fortunately, you can dilute this infectious airborne population in your home and get rid of the stale air by using your ventilation fans and opening your windows now and then.

Note that moving air will make you more comfortable even if it is at a high temperature than you would set. The summer cross breeze in your home works as a fan and helps reduce humidity. As a result, your house will feel cool. Cracking your windows occasionally open will help you prevent germs from spreading in your home.

If the temperature outside is warmer than what you often set on your thermostat, try and turn off your air conditioner, then open a couple of windows. Doing so will significantly improve the air quality in your house even if you only do it in the evenings.

open window

Tip 2: Invest in Air Filtration

Recycled air is susceptible to airborne germs. However, there are seasons when cranking your window open is not practical, specifically the middle months of summer or winter. Therefore, during such times, air filtration is vital.

When winter comes knocking, the lack of humidity makes the air in your home conducive for airborne germs. You may not want to open your windows during this period. As a result, dry air will keep getting recycled as it flows through the furnace, which can quickly fill the air with germs. Fortunately, there are air filtration products designed to fix this problem.

You can purchase a single-room air purifier to reduce the number of germs and airborne particles floating in your air. These filters will take the air out of the room several times each hour and pass it through a highly-effective particulate filter.

Buy a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Fundamentally, these are mats of fiberglass fibers arranged randomly and somewhere between 0.5 and 2.0 micrometers. Allergists and doctors recommend HEPA filters since they are the most efficient air purifications tools. Don’t assume that HEPA filters work similarly to a sieve; this is not the case. HEPA filters can trap particles that are smaller than the space between fibers. As the particles pass over the fibers, they stick to them.

If you suffer from allergies, air filtration is an excellent idea. The HEPA filter will eliminate microbes like the cold and flu virus and also remove pollen, dust, mites, and any other allergens present in the air. As with humidifiers, you can accomplish air filtration centrally in your home or on a room-by-room basis.

Room-by-room air filtration is excellent as it allows you to be flexible with where you need the air filtration. It is also a cheaper option if you only want to address air filtration in specific rooms. Although, you can take advantage of more significant technology leaps by opting for centralized air filtration.

Every HVAC system utilizes some filtration to eliminate the particulates from the intake ductwork, pulling air from your house. This air can be cycled through the air conditioning or the furnace. Ensure that you replace this filter regularly.

On the other hand, you can get a more sophisticated centralized air filtration system that will offer you more than a replaceable air filter. The majority of centralized air filtration systems meet similar stringent measures that hospital air filtration systems meet. Therefore, you can be confident that this technology is effective as hospitals are t about HIAs.

Centralized air filtration is a more cost-effective way of including your entire house within your air filtration system. Although it costs more than individual air filtration devices, it saves on replacement costs and energy in the long run.

Tip 3: Control the Humidity Levels In Your House

There are several reasons why winter is considered the flu season. For starters, you spend most of your time indoors in rooms that could be concentrated with airborne germs. Lack of humidity in the air is also a contributing factor.

Other viruses and flu can easily survive in environments with low humidity. Fortunately, you can keep your family and yourself healthier by creating moderate humidity in your house.

According to a CNN report, an increasing accord of scientists suggests that houses with an ambient humidity ranging between 40% and 60% have fewer flu germs on the surfaces like countertops and sinks and in the air. Getting your humidity to this level can reduce the survival rate of flu viruses by up to 30%.

You can combat respiratory issues like nosebleeds and reduce dry, itchy skin when you increase the humidity in your home during the winter months. That is why most individuals install portable humidifiers in their rooms over winter.

Increased humidity can act as your line of defense against their flu. However, to create the perfect balance, you need to do more than plug your humidifier in each other night.

home hygrometer

Start by buying a hygrometer. You can find a hygrometer online or in most home improvement stores. A hygrometer lets you know the precise atmospheric humidity levels in your home. Once you buy it, consider investing in a humidifier and ensure it is designed with germ prevention and is the right fit for the particular room size.

Note that majority of entry-level humidifiers may have germs. That is why more manufacturers are making models with UV germ-killing and inbuilt filter features. A portable single-room humidifier may not do much in specific homes. Usually, homes with large rooms and open plans tend to be challenging to humidify. Luckily, if a portable humidify does not suffice, there are plenty other options.

Whole-home humidifiers have gained popularity. Whole-home humidifiers append moisture to the air in the ductwork instead of generating water vapor from room to room. Another of their added advantages is they make your home warmer without you needing to crank the thermostat. They are more energy-efficient than single-room humidifiers.

Try using winter humidifiers if you want to make your house highly inhospitable for the flu virus. They are an excellent first step to take as they offer multiple other benefits aside from reducing the flu.

Most individuals are unaware of the power of UV light in fighting airborne germs, but there is history to this method. In 1903, UV light was used to fight the virus causing tuberculosis. Since then, it has been effectively used in spaces that need sterile work environments like medical facilities.

However, the type of UV light needed to kill germs was expensive to make, so it did not become a popular concept out of commercial applications. UV-C light is the only one that can do the job, but its wavelength does not easily occur on earth as the ozone layer stops it from penetrating the atmosphere.

But all this is changing as technology is getting more affordable. Most individuals add disinfecting UV light as disposable when combined with different sanitizing procedures. These lights are becoming more common in restaurants across the country. You may have come across one. They are usually blue and found in the corner of the restaurant’s kitchen. Usually, the ones found in restaurants are germ-killing UV lights.

There are several home HVAC applications utilizing UV light to enhance air quality. For instance, a wand-like device allows you to shine the disinfecting UV light on various surfaces. If it is challenging to disinfect a particular surface like a computer keyboard with other cleaning solutions, this can be pretty helpful. Although they are excellent tools, they are not highly effective when targeting airborne germs.

On the upside, there is an option of introducing UV technology to your HVAC system. It is a straightforward process achieved by installing a direction UV-C light at the air mover that pushes heated or cooled air across your home. Installing it here ensures that you simultaneously send it through an effective disinfecting device as the air circulates in your home.

If you have installed a humidifier, ensure it has a UV-C light device within it. If it has this device, it ensures that your humidifier is not a breeding ground for the germs you are trying to fight.

It is worth mentioning that UV-C disinfecting light is adequate throughout the year. Humidifiers come in handy during winter, but germs can also infest your home during summer, which is where the UV-C light disinfectant comes in. Essentially, it offers you and your family protection all year long.

bathroom fan

Tip 4: Use Ventilation While Showering

Excess humidity can become a problem during the months of summer. Bacteria and mold love damp environments. So one approach to control humidity is ventilating the air as you create steam in your home. Usually, this happens whenever you are taking a shower.

Often people tend to use ventilation fans because they find them convenient in ensuring their bathroom mirror does not fog over when they get out of the shower. However, during the months of summer, venting the steam will ensure your home is healthy and comfortable. It will also help if you take shorter showers. The longer you stay in the shower, the more steam you produce. Although ventilation can eliminate a chunk of the humidity, it will not remove all of it.

Taking a shorter shower will help reduce the humidity left in your house’s atmosphere when you are through. Shorter showers and proper ventilation are simple solutions that can help improve the air quality in your home.

Tip 5: Be On The Look Out For Water Damage

An additional risk of running your air conditioner and shortening its lifespan is water damage. Although the dangers that water damage poses are not contained in your HVAC system, they may result from a malfunctioned HVAC system. Water damage in wood studs or drywall can cause molds to form, and specific molds like black molds can cause serious health risks.

Ensure the damage is immediately repaired when you notice your HVAC system or anything else is causing water damage. When doing such repairs, most people cover the damaged patches with paint. However, repairs entail more than covering the stains using paint. Doing this does not resolve the issue. Instead, ensure you remove all the damaged patches of drywall. It would also be best to call a professional to look at it and assess the damage.

If an HVAC leak is causing the damage, ensure that this is fixed immediately, or the damage will recur. The best time to resolve this problem is when replacing the drywall since it will likely expose the root cause.

Tip 6: Be On The Look Out For Critters

Insects or rodents have likely inhabited your house from time to time if you stay in an old house. Aside from being a nuisance, critters also bring diseases. While you may commonly find them in your cupboard, or they may get in through a hole in the siding, they also get in through the ductwork.

Call a professional exterminator if you encounter ants, rats, and other unwanted pests. An exterminator will set traps or spray chemicals that kill or drive the pests off. They can also help you find out how the pests made their way into your home and fix it to ensure the pests no longer have access to getting into your home.

Suppose the pests got into your home through the ductwork. You have to hire an HVAC professional to fix the problem. Repairs may be costly, but note that vermin will try and get back into your home using the same means they did before. Unless the issue is fixed, infestations will keep recurring.

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Tip 7: Clean Your HVAC System

It would help if you cleaned and maintained your equipment regularly for your HVAC system’s sanitation. Routine cleaning is the primary factor in keeping your unit performing to its maximum potential. Doing so will also allow it to have a longer lifespan, removing the need for repairs, and lowering your electricity bills.

Tip 8: Always Clean All Areas Around Your HVAC System

A dirty and dusty HVAC system is more prone to pollutants and germs. The best way to ensure no dust is in your ductwork is to keep the area around your central air conditioning unit and furnace clean.

Keeping your furnace clean can be quite challenging if you live in an older home with an unfinished basement. Old stone foundations tend to flake, to create debris, not forgetting the dust accumulated over the years. It would be best to frequently use a shop vacuum to ensure the area around your furnace is clean.

Air conditioners can use both outdoor and indoor equipment. The air filtering in your ductwork does not come to contact with the outer part of your unit. It does, however, come in contact with the indoor evaporator coil. Usually, this is located in a similar area to your furnace. Therefore, you need to ensure that the evaporator coil is equally clean.

Cleanliness is even more crucial if you have window air conditioners. Window units usually pull air from the outside and push it into a refrigerator unit. If its interior working gets dirty, they can house germs. Since refrigerating coils create condensation that causes water to collect, this will facilitate the germs with a comfortable place to live and multiply.

dust under the bed

Tip 9: Clean Registers and Vents

Your floor registers and air vents are vital in generating airflow through your house. However, they tend to collect a lot of debris, dust, and dirt.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can remove grime and gunk from your registers. One of the most straightforward techniques is lifting the registers, wiping them down, and thoroughly vacuuming each vent. Alternatively, you can use a long handle brush or a vacuum hose to loosen the dirt and clean the hard-to-reach places in the HVAC’s return air registers.

It is worth noting that you should not use Lysol when sanitizing the return vents of your HVAC system. Lysol is highly flammable as it contains high ethanol alcohol concentration. So, when you spray it in your HVAC system, it could come into contact with the electric motor, creating a flash explosion. As a result, this can start a fire or damage your home’s ductwork. Therefore, avoid using Lysol as your HVAC system’s sanitizer.

Tip 10: Replace or Clean Filters

Ensure that you replace your filters after every three months. This practice is vital since it effectively traps contaminants and particles. It would help to know your filter’s dimensions so that you buy the right fit for your HVAC system. After purchasing a new filter, reattach it. Confirm that the arrow on the outer edge of the screen is aligned with the airflow’s direction.

If your filter does not need replacing but could use sanitation, remove it and rinse it off every month.

pleated furnace filter

Tip 11: Clean the Air Ducts

It would help if you disinfected your air ducts. Get a screwdriver and use it to unfasten the air ducts’ grilles and cover. Use a clothing piece to clean the grates, then use the vacuum hose to eliminate dust in tight spaces and corners. For extra cleaning power, consider getting a heavy-duty vacuum. Ensure you swab the ducts’ insides with a brush to remove mildew and mold.  For a deep clean and complete clean of your duct work system calling the professionals to do the job may make more sense.

Tip 12: Get Regular HVAC Servicing

If you want to have a germ-free HVAC system, it is vital to schedule regular maintenance. Doing so will save you from costly repairs in the long run as minor issues are fixed before they turn into huge problems.

For instance, stagnant water and leaky air conditioners can create a mold problem and act as a breeding ground for bacteria. It is easier to identify a hidden leak and repair it immediately with routine maintenance. As a result, you will have avoided it turning into a huge problem.

More moving parts require addressing if you have installed humidifiers and central air filtration. For instance, filtration needs frequent maintenance. You can do most of the maintenance like cleaning or replacing the filters, but you have to ensure that a professional service’s it ever so often. Note that these tools can only be highly effective when they are in their peak condition.

Regular maintenance could also entail system cleaning. Thoroughly cleaning your HVAC system can be challenging, and it usually requires you to pull the equipment apart. While you can complete some of this work, finishing the job will need a professional.

Thorough cleaning is especially vital for air conditioning units. The condensate drain is a particular trouble spot for germs in an air conditioning unit. Should this drain back up, the condensate will collect and create a pool of stagnant water. Germs will thrive in such an environment. However, the condensate drain is inspected with regular maintenance checks and the evaporator coils cleaned.

hvac technician

Partner With Furlong HVAC Services

Regardless of where you stay, follow these helpful air quality tips to ensure your HVAC system does not become a germ factory. If you live in Kingston, Gananoque or Leeds & Thousand Islands and area the best HVAC service solution is Furlong HVAC Services.

Our services include full-service cleaning, which is a crucial step towards fighting germs in your HVAC system. Our air conditioning maintenance service involves thorough cleaning your evaporator coil and the condensate drain, which is crucial in ensuring your HVAC system stays germ-free.

If a piece of your HVAC equipment needs service, you need regular maintenance, or you have any questions or concerns about cleaning your HVAC unit, contact us today.

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